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September 15, 2016

Working Together to Reach a City

By Daniel Im

 *Plus Members can watch this entire Behind-The-Scenes interview by logging in and clicking here.

Col-lab-o-ra-tion: The Art of Working Together

Not too long ago I read an article by Ed Catmull, President of Disney Pixar. In this article he explains the process of creating a movie. He writes,

A movie contains literally tens of thousands of ideas. They’re in the form of every sentence; in the performance of each line; in the design of characters, sets, and backgrounds; in the locations of the camera; in the colors, the lighting, the pacing. The director and the other creative leaders of a production do not come up with all the ideas on their own; rather, every single member of the 200- to 250-person production group makes suggestions. . . . The leaders sort through a mass of ideas to find the ones that fit into a coherent whole—that support the story—which is a very difficult task. It’s like an archaeological dig where you don’t know what you’re looking for or whether you will even find anything. The process is downright scary.[1]

As I read the process that Catmull sketched out in this article I thought to myself that this is what collaboration looks like in action. It’s people from many areas coming together, using their time, talents, and treasures to accomplish a task bigger than any one individual. And such collaboration is the kind that Chad Clarkson, Executive Director of HCPN (Houston Church Planting Network), believes churches should exhibit as they work together to plant more churches throughout cities and communities around the world. Recently I spoke with Chad where he discussed three aspects of collaboration, which I’m calling the “art of working together.”

Land Mines of Collaboration

If leaders (or churches) view the mission of the church—which includes the practice of church planting—as a sprint rather than a marathon, it will be easier for them to go at it alone. As Chad asserts, impatience is a land mine that prohibits collaboration from happens. Thus, leaders must be patient as they seek to build relationships with other leaders and churches that share similar visions and values. As leaders invest time and relational capital with other leaders, a shared trust is forged that gives way to collaboration.

Impatience isn’t the only land mine that prohibits collaboration. According to Chad, pride prevents leaders and churches from working together. Such pride exhibits a church-centric rather than a kingdom-centric attitude. If you want to know if you exhibit the tendencies of a church-centric mentality, ask yourself do you possess a theological, methodological, and/or territorial hubris towards other churches? In other words, do you think you have superior theology or methodologies in relation to other churches? And/or do you feel threatened when other churches come into your community? Such pride paralyzes collaboration.

Foundation of Collaboration

I asked Chad how one can lead a kingdom collaboration network rather than a church-centric network? In other words, while I know there are many great churches leading their own church planting network, I wanted to know Chad’s key to bringing together many churches (even across denominational lines) to advance God’s mission through church planting. Chad provided two elements: tasks (vision) and relationships. Both serve as the foundation for kingdom collaboration.

Tasks (Vision) serve more as the strategy for bringing people together to work towards a common goal. If there’s no compelling and cohesive vision, chances are there will be no collaboration. However, if there’s a compelling vision with accomplishable tasks that can make a greater impact in both the participants’ life and within the community, then the potentiality of collaboration is great.

If tasks serve as the strategy for collaboration, then relationships serve as the strengthening of collaboration. Vince Lombardi, the famous Green Bay Packers coach, once touted that relationships were the key ingredient for championship teams. If caring relationships are the difference between mediocre and great teams, then they certainly can be an ingredient that can either make or break collaboration between various churches and denominations.

To read the final point of steps towards collaboration, click here for the full video and post.

This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.

[1] Ed Catmull, “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity,” https://hbr.org/2008/09/how-pixar-fosters-collective-creativity.


  • Collaboration=people from various areas coming together, using their time, talents, & treasures to accomplish a task bigger than themselves
  • If churches view the mission of the church as a sprint rather than a marathon, it will be easier for them to go at it alone.
  • As leaders invest time and relational capital with other leaders, a shared trust is forged that gives way to collaboration.
  • Tendencies of a church-centric mentality: possessing theological, methodological, or territorial hubris towards other churches.
  • Vision and relationships are foundational to creating collaboration. @chadclarkson
  • If a network has no compelling and cohesive vision, chances are there will be no collaboration.
  • Relationships serve as the strengthening of collaboration.
  • Collaboration that brings together people from various areas to accomplish a task that’s greater than themselves is truly an art form.

Additional Resources:



Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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